Friday, 29th January, 2021

[Day 319]

Today started off as quite a bright, blue day so Meg and I enjoyed a pleasant walk down to the newsagents this morning. Then we struck out for the park where we coincided, after a day’s absence, with our Birmingham University friend. One little conundrum which were trying to puzzle out together is the exact meaning of the phrase ‘to have all of your buttons sewn on‘ which I have used in the past but the origins of which are lost in obscurity. It tends to imply that someone is completely rational i.e. in touch with the world (‘ he has all his buttons‘) but my two sources do not help. I have on my bookshelves a dictionary of idioms and their origins but no entry is listed here so that is no help. Nor is the internet (which tends to be very USA-oriented when you trying to track down British expressions) I think I may have an explanation for the origins of this phrase but I may be entirely wrong. I believe it is a tradition in parts of the navy, or perhaps just the merchant navy, that you cut the buttums off your dress uniform and transfer them from one dress uniform to another – to ‘have all your buttons sewn on‘ then becomes to have everything in order. I am quite happy to be told the correct explanation for this expression. Whilst on this subject, I did discover at the bottom of a hole in a wooded area which bordered on my garden a button which when cleaned up I identified as probably worn by a submariner captain in the 1940’s – how it got there in the wood, one can only imagine.

On our way home. we bumped into our two sets of friends who live near to each other so we had a genial chat. One of our friends is having some drainage work done which necessitates having a trench cut along the length of their drive. I reminded them if one partner reports to the police that their other half has suddenly gone missing and has not been seen for days, the police will look carefully at the patio to see if there is any signs of recent digging activity or irregularities in the patio surface – it seems in the light of experience, the best place to start looking.

After we had a lunch of risotto made with kipper fillets and cauliflower rice. Actually topped with cheese and with a big dollop of yogurt it turned out to be more delicious than you might imagine. Our domestic help enjoyed her portion anyway. After lunch, I walked down into town for the second time this day. The first thing I needed to do was to pick up some of the unsupplied portions of Meg’s medication – the pharmacist we use often seem to run out of things and give you a supply that will last for a few days but then you have to go back for the rest. My second port of call was to visit Boots in order to pick up some electric pre-shave which I buy from thenm when I can. As they never have any in stock, I decided to buy a couple of bottles online and then go to the shop to pick them up. This part worked OK and then I thought I would check the open shelves and, sure enough, Sod’s law appeared to be in operation because there on the open shelves were four bottles (which I never seen in stock for years)

Today, the media has got very excited about another two vaccines that appear to have extremely good efficacy. One of these has an 89% efficacy whilst the other Johnson and Johnson is 66% after a single injection. Each of these viruses work in a slightly different way so it is surely reassuring to have several arrows in one’s quiver so to speak. The EU, worried about its own sources of supply, is putting export controls upon vaccines manufactured in some EU-based factories and this has exploded onto the political scene in the context off Northern Ireland – which is evidently a potential border to be crossed between the EU and the UK. So this has the possibility of becoming really, really messy. One just hopes that cooler heads prevail and that everybody realises that it should be the virus that we are fighting and not each other. But again, national interests have sprung to the fore and the Germans, for one, may not recommend the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for their 65+ population (but is has just been approved for the rest of Europe)

Finally, we are keeping a careful watch out for a further bout of snow. We might get this in the next day or so and I, for one, hope this may be the last snowfall of the winter. At least we are fairly well prepared with snow clearing gear if we do get dumped on once again.